Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/96

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excuse for saké-drinking, and, instead of bringing assistance to the young people in their early struggles, rather tends to deplete the none-too-plethoric purse; for the beverage is provided by the groom, whose resources will have been severely taxed when he has furnished saké for the marriage-feast and the house-warming as well. At the latter feast a prayer is offered to the goddess of fire, by the village chief or one of the elders, invoking her protection for the house and its inmates, and asking that male children may be numerous and strong. This is called chiisei nomi.

Marriages are seldom contracted between residents of different villages, and if the Ainu kept anything like a record of blood-relationship, marriage between first cousins would probably be found the rule rather than the exception. But that inhabitants of different villages do intermarry is proved by the fact that they have words in their language to indicate the fact. Thus, iriwak means blood-relations, those who are received into the family circle and are close together (a village is virtually a large family), while iritak means distant relations, those who are taken away. Again, the names of those who go from their own village to wed with those of a distant village are changed, but whether or not this is done according to any rule is not quite clear; certainly there is nothing in the new name to indicate the birthplace of the person. With increasing facilities for traveling and temptations to wander in search of employment, these marriages out of the family circle are becoming more frequent.

Polygamy is permitted indefinitely, the number of wives being determined by the wishes of the man himself and his ability to secure a plurality—one can hardly say his ability to support them, since the support of the man himself and of his family is mainly provided by the women.

Widows are isolated for a period of three years, during which time each lives in her own little hut, supporting herself as best she can by doing a little gardening and by catching a few fish at night in a semi-surreptitious way. They must wear a distinctive cap during this period, and are not allowed to participate in any of the ceremonies of the village. At the expiration of the three years they doff their caps, resume their places in society, and are once more "eligible," and, if known to be good wives and mothers, are sought after. Old women (widows) with grown-up children are exempted from this enforced seclusion, and are supported by their offspring.

Adultery is strongly opposed by the Ainu, and is severely punished; the guilty parties (unless they are young people who can atone for their crime by marriage) being sometimes strung up by the heels until nearly dead. "The other crimes, recognized by